Telecom carriers call for review of FCC's broadband report

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL), Cincinnati Bell, Inc. (NYSE: CBB), Consolidated Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSL), FairPoint Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: FRP) and Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FTR) have filed a motion to strike an earlier report from the FCC´s hired economist, the company said.

The motion was in response to acknowledgements by four cable providers that the FCC had undercounted the number of locations capable of providing business data services. The FCC based its May 2016 further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) on the report, which the carriers described as “irretrievably flawed” in their motion.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is required, under federal statutes, to submit for peer review a revised assessment of competition in the business data services (BDS) marketplace, according to six US telecom carriers that last month filed a motion to strike an earlier version of the same report.

The revised report raises concerns, the carriers say, in a new filing with the FCC. The agency´s actions “reflect a desire to find shortcuts toward a pre-determined outcome rather than a neutral commitment to evaluate” competition in the BDS market, the filing says.

According to the carriers, the revised report from the FCC´s hired economist states the agency´s analysis of competition in the BDS marketplace is “essentially unaffected by [cable providers´] updated submissions.” This conclusion comes despite the FCC´s longtime position that the installation of Metro Ethernet does in fact constitute cable providers as relevant BDS competition, according to the filing.

CenturyLink senior vice president, public policy and government relations John Jones said the FCC´s reliance on a non-peer reviewed revised report would violate the administrative procedure act (APA) and “exacerbate the commission´s violation of the data quality act (DQA).”